South Africa’s most violent provinces in 2019

The latest crime statistics released by the South African Police Service (SAPS) paint a bleak picture for the Western Cape – shown to have the second highest murder rate in the country.

According to the SAPS data, for the period April 2018 to March 2019, the SAPS recorded 21,022 murders in the country, up 3.4% from the year before.

This averages out to 57.6 murders each day, at a rate of 35.8 murders per 100,000 people (based on the latest population estimates).

This continues the decades-long trend of increasing violent crime in South Africa, where the number of murders has continued to climb since 2010.

While the Western Cape only saw the third-highest number of murders (behind Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal), when looking at the murder rate per 100,000 people, the province comes far ahead of both Gauteng and KZN, and below only the Eastern Cape.

This is how the provincial murder rates (per 100,000 people) compare, based on the latest population estimates:

Despite being in the second-most violent province in South Africa, Cape Town consistently has the highest murder rate in the country, and one of the highest in the world. This is largely attributed to high levels of gang violence around the city.

And while the reported crimes in the province were lower – and the crimes as a result of police action were down substantially – this is in stark contrast to communities’ sense of safety and the crime realities of too many communities in the province, the Democratic Alliance (DA) said.

“With community-reported crime down 1.7% (from 339,205 in 2018/19 to 345,211 in 2017/18), and crime detected as result of police action down a staggering 27.2% (from 133,521 counts in 2017/18 to just 97,223 counts in 2018/19), it is clear that the SAPS appears to be unable to stem the tide on crime due to under resourcing pressures in the Western Cape,” the party said.

“We fear that communities are increasingly not reporting crime due to growing unhappiness with the police or distrust in the police’s abilities to assist.”

More worrying, the party said, is that this is not a new occurrence but that community-reported crimes have been decreasing over the last 5 years.

“All the crime statistics released today require further contextualisation. Internationally, crime data tends to be presented in ratios, usually per 100,000 of the population, which provides greater context regarding safety. This is something the SAPS has done in the past but failed to do in today’s presentation or refer to it in the raw data crime statistic spreadsheets released online.”

The Western Cape’s crime problem at first look seems largely unchanged:

  • 83.75% of all gang-related murders in the country (938 of 1120) occur in the Western Cape, in 2017/18 the figure was 83% (808 of 973).
  • 34.96% of all drug-related crimes in South Africa (81 344 of 232 657) occur in our province, in 2017/18 the figure was 36.2% (117,157 of 323,547).

The severity of situation, however, should not be overlooked:

  • 6.6% increase in murder in the province, from 3,729 in 2017/18 to 3,974 in 2018/19;
  • Highest count of murder for the last 10 years, up from 2,271 in 2009/10 to 3,974 in 2018/19;
  • More than a third of the top 30 Stations (11) with the highest murder count are found in the Western Cape.
  • 4.4% increase in attempted murder.
  • 14 of the top 30 stations for counts of attempted murder are found in our province.
  • 21 of the 30 top stations for counts of to drug-related crimes are found in the Western Cape.
  • Second highest counts of crimes against women 36,726 behind Gauteng at 45,238;
  • Highest counts for crimes against children at 9,366.

According to the DA, under-resourcing is one of the key issues in policing in the province and that is a complete injustice to the people living in there.

Of the 21,022 murders in South Africa, the SAPS today shared that the highest incidents of murder occur on Saturdays and Sundays between 18h00 the Saturday evening and 09h00 on Sunday mornings, as well as that most murders occur at the hands of guns (7,156), knives (4,720) and sharp objects (1,552).

The biggest causative factors of murder in the Western Cape are gang-related (938), arguments/misunderstanding (358), Domestic Violence (229) and armed robbery (223).

Revenge killings (114) and mob justice/vigilantism (151) as causative factors for murder are extremely worrying, the party said, and should be unpacked further, especially in the broader context of organised crime and the recent flare-up of xenophobic sentiments and violence.

Read: 58 people are murdered every day in South Africa – these are the worst areas

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South Africa’s most violent provinces in 2019